Over 1,000 doctors declare support for repeal of Eighth Amendment at Dublin summit
The declaration was made public in Dublin on Saturday morning with support from the Minister for Health.
Over 1,000 doctors in Ireland have publicly declared their support for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
The declaration was announced at the National Doctors Together for Yes Summit in The Alex Hotel, Dublin on Saturday morning (12 May).
In attendance were doctors from all over the country and Minister for Health Simon Harris, while the event was chaired by Together For Yes spokesperson, Dr. Mark Murphy.
“Today in Ireland we now have backstreet abortion. Thousands of women access unknown tablets over the internet and take then completely unsupervised without the ancillary care that should be available to them. We need to end backstreet abortion.” Dr Rhona Mahony #doctors4yes pic.twitter.com/hpkIVekxtH
— Together for Yes (@Together4yes) May 12, 2018
"We are doctors from every county, every specialty who have come here today to say that we want change, and that is very profound," Dr. Murphy said. "Today we are not silent, we are saying to our patients, we're saying to our country, the electorate that doctors support the yes vote. An overwhelming majority of doctors support a yes vote.
"What is happening, our patients, our friends and the health of women for 35 years is not right. We are saying that the Eighth Amendment has been harmful, distressing, damaging to so many couples and households, so many women and it's not good enough.
"We will not stand over unsafe abortion in Ireland. We will not stand over a situation where the constitution puts a straitjacket on our obstetricians and gynecologists.
"The reality is that unsafe abortion is in Ireland. This is not a vote of yes or no. This is a vote of whether we make healthcare safe and regulated.
"We are declaring to our patients, putting our names out there for everyone to see that over a thousand doctors - now up to 1,080 - have publicly said 'We want a yes vote, for more compassion so that women can get the healthcare that they deserve in Ireland."
Speaking next was Dr. Anna McHugh, a GP trainee in Donegal, who spoke about the new generation of doctors and the stigma of healthcare particularly in rural Ireland:
"I did not become a doctor to be complicit in Ireland in a healthcare system that continues to treat its women like this. I do not want to stand by and watch another generation of young women travelling to the UK with young women standing alone, petrified, taking abortion pills on their own.
"When I look ahead to a career spanning 40 years ahead of me, I hope that when a woman has a crisis pregnancy, that she feels unafraid to stand with me and I can stand with her without fear."
Obstetrician and gynecologist Professor Louise Kenny, who specialises in the management of high risk pregnancies said: "In the 25 years since I have qualified, I have witnessed first-hand, in both the UK and Ireland the shadow that the Eighth Amendment casts over the health and well-being of every women in the state."
"Under the Eighth Amendment, doctors like me can only perform termination of pregnancy when there is a 'real and substantial risk' to the life of the woman. We're not taught in law school or medical school what 'real and substantial' means, because there isn't a definition."
Clip via Michael Lanigan
Dr. Mary Favier, a GP practicing in Cork told the gathering, "The voice of the profession, with notable exceptions was largely silent in 1983 when the amendment was inserted into the constitution.
"It is not silent today. Today is the day to state loudly, we have a lot done and a lot more to do. Today we are committing to working to have the Eighth Amendment removed from the constitution. Today as a profession, we are committing to making Ireland a better place."
Minster for Health, Simon Harris concluded the summit by saying: "It is important that on this list here, we have doctors from every county in Ireland, because the Eighth Amendment has impacted women from every county. We've got to accept that reality and we've got to address that reality.
"The overwhelming majority of doctors in Ireland believe the status quo cannot remain. I cannot imagine what it must be like for people in the care profession to sit in front of a vulnerable woman and perhaps her partner in perhaps a really distressing time in her life and say, 'There is nothing more I can do for you'.
"How can we stand over that? As Health Minister I will not stand over that. We must repeal the Eighth."
Doctors nationwide, who are registered in Ireland and have provided a medical council number have been encouraged to continue signing up to the public declaration of support.
The full list of doctors can be seen here.